Euro 2020 Holland’s Denzel Dumfries has always eyed the top after an inspirational career journey


It is not just Denzel Dumfries’s buccaneering runs down the right that gather real momentum as he goes along. His career has progressed in a similar vein.

Celebrating his latest exploits for the Netherlands after securing qualification for the knockout stages this week, their official Twitter account hailed the fairytale journey of their new national favourite.

‘From non-league to Netherlands hero in eight years … Denzel Dumfries,’ they posted, alongside three flame emojis. 

Netherlands full-back Denzel Dumfries has been one of the stars of Euro 2020 so far

Netherlands full-back Denzel Dumfries has been one of the stars of Euro 2020 so far 

The 25-year-old full-back has been involved in each of the five Netherlands' goals so far

The 25-year-old full-back has been involved in each of the five Netherlands' goals so far

The 25-year-old full-back has been involved in each of the five Netherlands’ goals so far

The 25 year-old has already lit up the Euros, emerging as one of the Netherlands’ and tournament’s sensations so far, with his relentless, unstoppable raids from his right wing-back role. 

PSV captain Dumfries has scored twice and been involved in all five of the goals the Dutch have scored.

Despite his own faith plus the long-held hopes and dreams he had and even committed to paper when he was younger, nobody else believed Dumfries would become a Dutch international, let alone be able to have such an impact on the biggest stage.

It was only in the summer that the Netherlands last reached a major tournament, in 2014, that late developer Dumfries made his first move into professional football.

When they faced Spain in their unforgettable opening game in that World Cup, a 5-1 win, Dumfries had travelled to Amsterdam as a fan all decked in orange to be part of a huge crowd watching the game on a big screen. Just four years later he was making his Netherlands debut against Germany.

Ahead of his bow Dumfries’ younger sister sent him a photo of himself from that day in the Dutch capital just to remind him how far he had come.

‘From supporter to international,’ he said reflecting on the photo following his Dutch debut. ‘Nice isn’t it?’

In some ways it is rather fitting that Dumfries has enjoyed the sort of inspirational career journey that sounds a little like a film script.

The sight of Dumfries bombing down the right-flank has been a common sight so far

The sight of Dumfries bombing down the right-flank has been a common sight so far

The sight of Dumfries bombing down the right-flank has been a common sight so far 

The man who has the same surname as a Scottish market town, has a first name inspired by award-winning actor Denzel Washington.

Born in Rotterdam and part of a family of six, Dumfries grew up playing football in the shadow of Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium but, football-wise, often found himself underestimated and unwanted in his earlier years.

Sparta Rotterdam, initially, also did not deem Dumfries worthy of a place in their setup at the time.

And rather than in a professional academy, he was left largely overlooked and forced to make his early steps in amateur football until he turned 18.   

Just before that things began to change. Before Dumfries was finally picked up by Sparta from non-league side Barendrecht in 2014 he was also invited to play for Aruba, the country where his dad Boris is from.

The ‘very nice experience’ to play international football was an opportunity Dumfries considered too good to turn down.

Dumfries was unwanted in his early days but things began to change when he joined Sparta

Dumfries was unwanted in his early days but things began to change when he joined Sparta

Dumfries was unwanted in his early days but things began to change when he joined Sparta

But he accepted it – playing twice against Guam and scoring once – on the condition that any games he played in were non-competitive.

To the disbelief of many, Dumfries did not want to commit his international future to Aruba because he still harboured dreams of representing the Netherlands.   

His ambition was laughed off. ‘Some guys looked at me with skewed eyes: “you play for Barendrecht, what are you talking about?”’ he recalled.

But proving people wrong has been a recurring theme of Dumfries’ rise. And through sheer persistence and determination he has reached the top, adapting to every step up along the way.

From Sparta, where long-serving former Dutch right back Michael Reiziger was his assistant coach, Dumfries earned a move to Herenveen where he stayed a year before being snapped up by PSV in

After impressing at Sparta he moved to Hereenenveen and then PSV in 2018

After impressing at Sparta he moved to Hereenenveen and then PSV in 2018

After impressing at Sparta he moved to Hereenenveen and then PSV in 2018

2018 in one of the final deals done by Marcel Brands, now Everton’s director of football.

They have been regularly linked with a move for Dumfries. Playing in the Premier League one day is another of his aims and it will be no surprise if he achieves it.

On his 18th birthday, Dumfries received a note from his parents – Boris and mum Marleen – which read ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish.’

That backed up the approach Dumfries had already taken to mapping out his career and, now he is starring for the Netherlands, has already proved rather accurate.

‘I have a notebook at home and for years I wrote down how my career as a player should go,’ he told Dutch publication Algemeen Dagblad in 2018.

Dumfries had a chance to represent Aruba but was committed to playing for the Netherlands

Dumfries had a chance to represent Aruba but was committed to playing for the Netherlands

Dumfries had a chance to represent Aruba but was committed to playing for the Netherlands

‘[Playing for] the Netherlands also came in for that. The steps I wanted to take, where I had to improve.

‘At first I wrote everything on the wall above my bed. But my sister got that room and it had to be painted over.

‘There are still some pages left in the notebook, to fill in where I want to go. Let’s just say I’m on the right track. I’ve met people over the years who predicted that it wouldn’t work. I would never reach the top. Who thought I was crazy. 

‘But I myself have always believed in it. I am proud to have proven otherwise.’



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